New Liverpool striker Peter Crouch revealed that Liverpool weren’t totally happy with just a point in yesterday’s clash with Manchester United. Liverpool kept their fourth clean sheet out of four in the league this season – but still have only one goal to their name. Crouch said that at home Liverpool would like to come away with the victory: "We’re slightly disappointed with the result because at home you’re always looking for three points. At the same time, it’s no disgrace drawing with Manchester United because they’re a big threat. But we’re setting our standards high. We feel we could have won, but at least we didn’t lose."
The flavour-of-the-month for the national media is criticism of 4-5-1 formations. As soon as England struggled with that formation against Wales it was always going to be criticised, and with yesterdays game seeing two variations of 4-5-1 producing a goalless draw, they had more weight to their arguments. Crouch said that he didn’t see the game as boring: "It didn’t feel a low key game out there. There were a few tackles flying about. Both sides wanted to win but a draw was fair. It’s frustrating to have had three 0-0 draws, but we’re sure goals will come. On the plus side we’re solid at the back and keeping clean sheets."
Liverpool now get almost a whole week to prepare for their next game, against Birmingham, which is quite a luxury this season. Last season Liverpool were beaten twice by Birmingham, who feature a former Liverpool striker in Emile Heskey, but Crouch is confident that Liverpool can improve on that this season: "We’ve taken points from good teams and now we’ll be looking to take three from those teams we know we should beat so we can close the gap. We’ll be looking towards Birmingham now. We can get a result there."
Visiting United fans had very little to go on for criticism of Liverpool yesterday, after all they were trophyless last season and were up against the European Champions. The best they could find was to taunt Liverpool with chants of "Wimbledon", suggesting Liverpool had adopted the long-ball game. In fact United are closer to Wimbledon than Liverpool – after all both Wimbledon and United fans were so outraged at the actions of their clubs owners that they decided to form their own clubs (AFC Wimbledon and FC United). Crouch explained how they were wrong on the long-ball jibes too: "The United fans are always going to take the mickey, but we know we don’t play like that.When you’ve got Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso, who are great ball players, we can play a good style. We know we can mix it up too, and sometimes you need to hit a long ball and feed off the seconds."
Crouch also managed to wind Rio Ferdinand up somewhat yesterday, the former West Ham and Leeds defender clearly seen on replays swearing abuse to Crouch after he’d felled the striker. Crouch was happy enough: "I take a lot of the stick as a compliment. I wasn’t going to let Rio Ferdinand have an easy time. When you play against world class players like that you want to unsettle them and that’s my job done. I thought I did that well."
Crouch had his own views of Liverpool’s performance yesterday, and no doubt that will be shared by the coach: "Maybe we were a touch deep at times. It worked well against Betis but not so well yesterday in the final third. But the result in Betis shows there’s no problem. There’s enough quality to get goals."